Many recent arguments for trans-state and global democracy would offer broad leeway on constitutionalized right standards to states, and few formal mechanisms for individuals to challenge domestic rights rejections beyond the state. Such a stance, it is shown here, tends to be rooted in implicit presumptions of domestic consensus. Challenges are offered to this and related presumptions in accounts of cosmopolitan democracy, as well as global variants of liberal nationalism and political liberalism. An alternative, primarily instrumental approach to trans-state and global democracy is detailed. It would give emphasis to ways in which formal suprastate participation, complemented by challenge mechanisms for individuals, could play a crucial role in helping to strengthen individual rights protections within states. The case for adopting such an approach is reinforced through attention to the efforts of a persistent domestic democratic minority – Dalits in India – to reach out to the global human rights regime for help in pressuring their own state to better protect rights against exclusion and subjugation.